GREEK MYTHS by Olivia Coolidge


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This is a rather baffling book to report, because of certain inconsistencies in its presentation of the familiar Greek myths. Inconsistencies, that is, of direction to the audience, which-for mythology- one would usually indicate about 8 to 11 years of age. The author, while retelling the old favorites, a generous selection of them, with a certain zest and artistry, all too frequently injects a sophisticated note, a double meaning that only adults would appreciate. The gods and goddesses emerge, fairly well stripped of dignity and responsibility, as they indulge in spite and jealousy, passion and anger, and too rarely use their power for good. There's almost a cynicism in the shades of meaning, which may provide lively and entertaining reading for adults familiar with various presentations and understanding the place these myths held in the ancient world. But somehow they fall short of the demand for able introduction to young readers to whom there's a reality in myths that their elders have lost. Possibly my own love for mythology, my still vivid memory of the magic of my own first encounters with these stories make me over sensitive to betrayals of faith with youthful dreams. I'd choose rather the Edith Hamilton Mythology as the best among the modern versions.

Pub Date: Aug. 30th, 1949
ISBN: 0618154256
Publisher: Houghton, Mifflin